Recently, I was asked when was the last time I laughed, uncontrollably, with pure abandonment, total disregard for propriety; with alacrity I yelped, watching “The Kings of Summer”. A joyous “coming of age” film reminiscent of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, “Huckleberry Finn” adventures, minus the dark side. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’s “The Kings of Summer” encapsulates the validity of why people flock to darkened venues to wallow in the luxurious, at times injurious, plights of strangers; strangers that in less than two hours are unmasked, become friends or catapulted into anonymity; legitimate, sensational voyeurism; in this scenario, unmitigated fun.
“Joe” (Nick Robinson) a fifteen-year-old frustrated, bright boy, living with his bitter, single father “Frank” (caustically galvanizing, dead-pan performance by Nick Offerman); his mother is deceased; flees the confines of his middle class neighborhood and the unceasing harangues of his dad; convinces his closest friend, “Patrick” (Gabriel Basso) to accompany him into Thoreau-like terrain, build a house and “suck the marrow out of life”. They are joined by “Biaggio” (Moises Arias) one of the most enchanting, compelling creatures to grace the contemporary screen; combination golem/troll he kidnaps every scene, and like “E.T” charms and seduces the most intransigent hearts.
“The Kings of Summer” is positively refreshing, unscarred by bullying, cruelty (“Lord of the Flies”), menacing mayhem. It addresses issues of adolescence, struggling to emerge from the chrysalis into adulthood; ache of first love’s tragic carnage; finding a neutral ground within parental parameters. Incredibly, all the characters are intrinsically kind, genuinely decent people; we recognize these people, they are our neighbors, friends, families; they are us.
Loving the medicinal rewards of laughter, “The Kings of Summer” delivers the “full monty”!